Tannishtha Chatterjee speaks on intimate scenes censorship
She impressed us in ANGRY INDIAN GODDESSES and now her upcoming film CHAURANGA is all set to release this Friday. After being a part of the much-spoken about movie with Brett Lee – UNINDIAN,
Tannishtha Chatterjee truly seems promising in her roles through art films. But we in fact asked the actress if she will ever do a commercial film and her response is just epic! To know more about our Q&A session with her, read on…
First you did ANGRY INDIAN GODDESSES and now you’re going to be seen in CHAURANGA. Will we ever see you do a commercial film?
*Laughs* I hope one of these films become commercial. If in our stream, what you call the mainstream culture as, then yes I haven’t done much of mainstream. I think more interesting roles for women come in art house films. But I have to admit that now things are changing in mainstream.
Is there a reason why your name is Dhaniya in the movie?
*Laughs* You’ll have to ask Bikas this question. She’s a very spicy character na that’s why she’s named after a spice.
How different is your role in CHAURANGA from ANGRY INDIAN GODDESSES?
Completely different. I’m not at all angry here. Like I said, I’m just spicy. *Laughs* CHAURANGA is a rural setting, ANGRY INDIAN GODDESSES was an urban setting. Funnily, I wasn’t a part of the workshop and first few days of shoot in ANGRY INDIAN GODDESSES. I came only in the last 12 days, and actually Nalin had divided the role in a very different way. I joined the team late because I was shooting for CHAURANGA only. I shot for these films back-to-back and it’s releasing also back-to-back.
'Tannishtha Chatterjee: I hope my films become commercial'
Is your CHAURANGA character relatable to you in real life?
*Thinking for a long pause* No. Not to me personally. But I have shot a few films in the interiors of India and during that time, I have done a lot of research for various aspects of women’s life in villages in India. Yes I can relate to it in terms of how I have witnessed women in rural India. But as far as Dhaniya’s particular story goes, there’s nothing that’s common between my life and hers. But yeah – I have seen in my travels and researched many women very closely, in a very intimate way, which have a really similar life like Dhaniya. In many ways, Dhaniya is actually the essence of a rural, forward Indian woman. Even if things are really fucked up in their life, it doesn’t matter because she’s very spirited. You can’t tell looking at her, but she’s a fighter. You will feel that certain things aren’t right, but she’ll do it. I’ve seen a lot of women in rural India like that. Also, they’re not thinking, but practical women.
How was your experience working with Sanjay Suri?
Very good yaar. Me and Sanjay have been friends for a long time. It was fantastic and working with him didn’t feel like work – it was fun in a beautiful place (Shanti Niketan) with good food, great weather, and when you’re working with friends, you don’t feel like you’re working. You feel like you’re just having a picnic. But again, we made a very important film about caste issue and it won the best film in MAMI last year and is now releasing here. Having fun, we made the film, but now it’s good.
And how was it working with the first time director Bikas?
Again, Bikas and I became friends through the process of filming. I really liked the script. I’ve worked with a lot of first-time directors and always believe that such director’s passion is really way up there because they have to prove something. They are really hard working and passionate. If you see the history of filmmaking, most very good filmmakers like Satyajit Ray’s first films are very special. So I’m not at all of the belief of a first timer. It’s always a risk you take, but it’s more interesting. And the plus point is that Bikas has written the script. If somebody else writes the script, then you don’t know. But the director has written the script and there’s a particular vision he has. While you’re always taking a risk, Onir and Sanjay are very veteran producers. Sanjay has been a very well-known actor and producer – he’s produced some really important films like MY BROTHER NIKHIL and I AM! That factor is also there.
There was a love-making scene that was censored in CHAURANGA. What do you have to say about it?
Honestly, we’ve been fighting censorship for such a long time now. As artists, we already don’t like censorship. We like to be free-spirited and believe in freedom of expression. When you have a board that certifies things, why do you need censorship? You’re already telling the audiences about the certification so let them choose. No one’s forcing anyone, right? This isn’t Television where it’s coming to your home by force – where you switch on the TV and it’s there. You have to buy tickets to go to the hall and watch. You are making a choice. Why is this comparison there? Sometimes when we talk about censorship people say go and live in another place. Why do you compare it with countries which don’t have liberal democracy? We claim to have a liberal and secular democracy, right? Those are the words you read in our constitution as well. So if we are a liberal democracy then we should compare with other countries like ours. We can’t compare with military dictatorship and then say that we’re a liberal democracy. I’m glad that now people are really taking to the streets to protest. Things should change because we’re matured enough now and young India is moving on so let them choose. With the internet, everybody has free access to what they want. Are you now going to start censoring everything? I think we had classics because we’re a liberal country. Look at Mahabharat! They are so way ahead of their time. We have always been a culture which has embraced diverse and encompassing things, and it should remain like that. You just can’t shut people up!
'Tannishtha Chatterjee speaks about her future projects'
Were you a part of the scene?
I was. It’s one of the scenes that’s a plus point in the film. There was nothing explicit so I don’t understand.
Did you have to put in some extra efforts for the movie?
I had to convince my on-screen children that I play their mother and had to learn a dialect, but luckily Bikas came from that region. So preparation was indirect like that. Me and on-screen
children spent a lot of time playing carrom. So much so that Bikas was actually surprised about what is happening between the three of us.
Tell us about your future projects
I’m shooting a film right now which is a biopic and I’m playing the main lead. There’s another period film. I’m starting another international project and there’s another film which is in
development. The film is with the same director who made I AM KALAM. These are things that I’m going to be shooting next.